Not too long ago, we took a look at the PlayStation Mobile version of Laughing Jackal’s Hungry Giraffe. A while later they confirmed that they were bringing the game to the PS Vita – their first game dedicated specifically for the console so I thought it was time to revisit our long-necked friend to see what improvements and updates had been made…
I’m certainly not going to waste time covering the same ground describing the basics of the game again as you’ve no doubt read my previous review (if not, why not?!)… For this version, Laughing Jackal promised us new features aplenty, updated controls, better graphics, leaderboard and trophy support – a general overhaul taking advantage of everything that the PlayStation Vita had to offer.
So what’s different for the Vita version? The main change is what you can actually do with the giraffe himself. As you eat during the game you build up calories as you would expect. You can then use these in the in-game store in a variety of ways. First is the Upgrades area where you can purchase different pieces of kit to aid in your never ending quest for food – increasing your ability to store supplies of hard hats, reducing the effects of poison and other harmful effects and generally giving you a helping hand…
Next up are the Angel Feathers. New to the Vita version, these allow you to give yourself a fighting chance if there’s no food in sight and basically grant you a second chance to lift your giraffe a bit higher into the trees, clouds or wherever it is that you are climbing. Not cheap but they could be a real life-saver. Less useful are the different skins changing the look of your giraffe completely ranging from a snake, reindeer, emu and even a robotic giraffe (I kid you not!). Finally, you can use your calories to unlock later levels if you’re struggling to reach them on your own.
In addition to this, Laughing Jackal have updated the controls and as well as being able to use the left analogue stick to guide our hungry hero on his never ending quest for food, he can now be controlled using the Vita’s motion sensors so he can be steered by simply tilting the controller. It’s a nice option to have although – to be honest – I found myself quickly returning to the joystick controls which I found to be quicker to use and far more responsive. The biggest change for gamers, however, is one that has been screamed out for ever since Hungry Giraffe first burst onto the scene as part of the Minis range – Trophies and Leaderboards.
With the Leaderboards function you are able to compare your performance, as expected, against both people on your friends list and the global PlayStation community not only with your high scores but also with the height you manage to reach in the game. On the Trophies front, 8 have been included – a mix of gold, silver and bronze – completely replacing the achievements that were in the PlayStation Mobile version. While I can appreciate that there are more competitive gamers out there who feel the need for these, on a personal level Leaderboards and Trophies don’t alter my enjoyment of a game either way – they’re a nice bonus, but I can take it or leave it when it comes to whether they are present or not.
Now these additions are all quite welcome and do show that Laughing Jackal have put some effort into improving the game over the PS Mobile version, but I do have one serious reservation about it… as well as earning calories through playing (which don’t build up particularly quickly) there is an option to buy them from the PSN Store but no price has been mentioned and the link is (currently) inactive. While I have no issue paying for DLC that adds additional functions, levels etc that is released after a game has been launched, or paying for content with F2P titles (such as Jetpack Joyride, this model used for Hungry Giraffe does concern me. With the PS Vita being more expensive than the PS Mobile version and still charging, even if it is optional, does leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
Fortunately, the simple, yet addictive gameplay itself has been left intact and with the new power-ups and costumes on offer it certainly gives you something more to work towards to keep you coming back for more to give the game more repeat play appeal. Personally, I’m working my way towards the Mecha Giraffe skin at the moment although I think I’ve got a long way to go right now – just another hundred games to go…
I have to be honest and say that I couldn’t really notice any significant difference between this and the PSM version when it came to the visuals or sound. Whether that was just my eyesight or was a credit to Laughing Jackal for just delivering such a highly polished game on the PS Mobile in the first place I don’t know but to be frank apart from being a little bit sharper and crisper, you’d be hard pressed to tell which version was which, especially when playing the game.
I still have no hesitation in recommending this to anyone and it is certainly the definitive version for any of the PlayStation formats when looking at all of the extras that have been added to it. My only reservation is the microtransactions used for purchasing extra calories. The pricing for the game is about right at the moment (considering the previous Minis and PlayStation Mobile releases) so I’m not sure about paying again for content I’ll be able to unlock through continuous play. I’ll gladly pay for DLC adding extra skins, new levels and features in the future but not to speed up access to what is already in the game.
At A Glance
- Title: Hungry Giraffe
- Publisher: Laughing Jackal
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 83Mb